Saturday, November 24, 2012

25 years ago today; Coffey traded to Pittsburgh

"It's not fair to the players who are working hard now to keep going if I can ice a better team by trading Paul." said Glen Sather, a few days before he actually did pull the trigger on a trade. New York Rangers, Detroit, St.Louis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were the teams making serious pitches at Slats.
One report had the Red Wings ofering Adam Oates, two 1st-rounders and cash for Coffey. Detroit coach Jacques Demers was stunned by Edmonton's refusal. Another rumour was the Flyers offering Doug Crossman, Scott Mellanby and a 1st-round pick. Perhaps the craziest rumour was a three team trade involving Pittsburgh, Rangers and the Oilers wih the main players being James Patrick, Bob Froese and a Penguins 1st-rounder.
In the meantime, Coffey himself stayed in shape by skating with a Junior B team in Toronto. He and his agent, Gus Badali had begun their holdout mere minutes after Canada's victory over Russia in the Canada Cup on Sept. 15. They wanted the Oilers to renegotiate the last two years of Coffey's $325,000 contract. The demand was from between $600,000 and $800,000.

In the end, the deal went down as a seven player swap with the Pens, Edmonton getting Craig Simpson, Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph for Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp. Pens GM Bob Johnson proclaimed,"He's a world-class player. He's going to look great in black and gold."

Prior to his first game with Pittsburgh Penguin Doug Bodger said Coffey told him "Don't give me the puck too hard because I won't have my timing yet." After the match Bodger said,"Holy geez. I wonder what it's like when he does have his timing," as Coffey produced three assists in a 6-4 win over Quebec. He also had about 27 minutes of ice-time.

 At the time of the trade, Pittsburgh sat one point out of the playoffs with a 7-10-4 record, and Coffey would indeed help lead them over the .500 mark. They finished with 81 points yet still had fallen to sixth and last in the ultra competitive Patrick Division. Coffey would finish with 67 points in 46 games for Pittsburgh. The Oilers who were only point ahead of Calgary when the trade was made, finished in second place in the Smythe, but of course went on to win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years even without Coffey.

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